The Day I Typed “The End”

Pheidippides collapses after finishing the first marathon run. By Luc-Olivier Merson (1869)

Pheidippides collapses after finishing the first marathon run. By Luc-Olivier Merson (1869)

Typical Me:

“I started something; Typical me, typical me, typical me;  And now I’m not too sure…” ~Johnny Marr & Morrissey (From: I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish, by The Smiths)

Sure, I’d spent thirty or so years threatening to write an epic fantasy. Seemed like stuff kept getting in the way. You know: life… and stuff.  I suppose a few decades of not starting something I’d been talking about since I was twelve eventually made me reticent about it. But with some of those close to me (read: my parents), I’d gained an ill-repute. First there was the writing thing, then came the guitar lessons I quit (I got blisters on my fingers!), and there was always the bedroom I wouldn’t clean, dishes I wouldn’t rinse, and so on. It also took me six years to work my way to a Bachelor’s degree. So yeah, I took some grief about my lack of resolve in finishing things.

Untypical Me: So from the time I left college until I left the business world in ’03, I worked hard to earn a can-do reputation. From product start-ups, to sales turnarounds, to remodeling projects, to building my own house—I became Mr. Stick-To-It-Till-Done. People looking for advice on how to tackle and accomplish difficult undertakings came to me. Me! The guy who never started writing, who switched his major four times, and who never cleaned his room. It took some time, but even I started to believe it about myself.

Then I started writing. At first it was a sideline to my carpentry gig—mostly for rainy days or between projects. I figured I’d knock my story out in, oh, say six to eight months. Yeah, right. That slid by, and I was still outlining. Woo-boy—Typical Me was back. Luckily, I kept my writing mostly secret. After all, I had a reputation to uphold.

The Blind Rush Forward:

 “For me, it’s always been a process of trying to convince myself that what I’m doing in a first draft isn’t important. One way you get through the wall is by convincing yourself that it doesn’t matter.” ~ Neil Gaiman

At some point I did just as Lord Gaiman describes in the quote: I self-deluded. It would just be a story for my niece and nephew (we’d long shared a love of fantasy stories). No one else had to see it. And it began to turn around for me. I made progress, and started to have fun, inventing names and researching Goths and Romans. As my story unfolded, I became fascinated by the revelations that seemed to come from nowhere. Characters took on personalities all their own, and the story expanded in startling and yet delightful ways. Nuances I’d never dreamed of including magically appeared. I’d been kissed by the muse, and I couldn’t get enough.

I no longer worried about showing it to others. I knew it was amateurish. I didn’t care. I just wanted to get through the story. The only thing I can compare it to is getting hooked on reading a book. A big, epic, unexpectedly mind-blowing book. I couldn’t wait to pick it back up and see what would happen next. From early on I had a vague idea for how the story would end. But the things that kept me going were the ongoing surprises and unexpected twists. Ah, the life of a newbie pantser. It was a real rush!

What, Me Worry? Then one day, two to three years into my little side-project, I came to a realization. I had no idea about word counts or story arcs, but at about 200K I realized my story was getting longish. I also knew, with absolute certainty, I was only a third of the way through the main story. But I was also at a seminal moment for my two main characters. Their lives were irrevocably changed. “Hey, this could be the end of a book,” I thought. And I suddenly knew the general shape of the two remaining arcs of the overall story. “Huh. It’s a trilogy! Who knew?”

I know every writer’s journey varies. Many writers would’ve stopped there, revised, polished and submitted book one, knowing they could write the rest later. That thought worried me. It messed with my aforementioned self-delusion. I told myself, “What’s the rush? Just finish the story. No one is going to see it anyway… For now.”

A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum:

“When people come to me and say, ‘I want to be a writer. What should I do?’, I say, ‘You have to write.’ And sometimes they say, ‘I’m already doing that. What else should I do?’ I say, ‘You have to finish things.’ Because that’s where you learn from; you learn by finishing things.” ~Neil Gaiman

I blew out my shoulder in October of ’08. Don’t worry, it’s much better now. But at the time it was a fairly debilitating injury. I couldn’t even type for a month, and carpentry was out of the question for the foreseeable future. I had recently finished the second section of my story, and the final section was underway. Almost five years in, I had already changed my focus from mostly carpentry to mostly writing, but the injury was the universe’s final nudge. Time to go all-out and finish.

But that’s not the funny thing I allude to in the above subtitle. Something else was going on. My gut was telling me I might have a good story. I’d long since abandoned the idea it was for my niece and nephew. Heck, they were teenagers in high school by this time, not remotely interested. Plus it had clearly become an adult story by then.

I still tried not to allow myself to think too far ahead, but a tiny flame had been kindled in my heart. I started to believe my story could matter. I’d learned so much about myself along the way. I’d laughed and cried with my characters. I started to think that maybe it could be meaningful to others, too. I didn’t allow this hope into the front seat as I drove for the finish line, but I knew it was back there, hidden in the trunk. I wanted it to be published. I wanted to connect with others through my story.

Trudging Wrought Road: About halfway through book three, I decided to map out all of the things that needed to happen to pull all of my many story-threads back together. The story had sprawled on me, so it was going to be quite a feat. In the final few months, I knew each day what needed to happen to get me to the next step. It was a really rudimentary attempt at plotting, but it got me from day to day, week to week.

Even in writing this today, I have to remind myself that no one had read yet. My wife and sister both read the first draft, but not until it was completely done. I somehow trudged through these ‘plot steps’ I’d mapped out in a workmanlike fashion, and I marvel at my former self now. These were/are emotional scenes for me—the culmination of years of toil and systematic setup. I still laughed and cried at the appropriate points, but it was all in a day’s work. On to the next step.

And then I reached the last plot point on my list. And it was emotionally wrought. But I knew it wasn’t quite over.

Can You Say Catharsis? It needed an epilogue. I’m not even sure I knew the term then. But I knew there was one more scene. And I knew this one would be the one that got me. It did.

I remember telling my wife on our morning walk that I thought I would finish this last scene that day. But I kept it nebulous. Neither of us made too big of a deal out of it. Like the whole journey to that point, it was too uncertain.

I wrote the epilogue scene through the blur of stinging eyes. And I made a prominent point of typing the actual words. It felt so damn good typing “The End.” I wept. Do I admit that a lotJude-Law-in-the-Holiday-jude-law-5255540-399-223 in this space? I suppose like  Jude Law’s character Graham in The Holiday, “I’m a major weeper.” 

I instant messaged my wife and told her, and admitted I was crying. She messaged back: “Now I’m crying. So proud of you!”

The Beauty of The End:

“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”  ~Lennon & McCartney (From The End, by The Beatles)

I’ve typed the words “The End” since, and aspire to many more times. But that first time was special. Neil’s right—there’s much to be learned from finishing. In many ways, typing “The End” is only the beginning. It’s the start of sharing what you’ve gained, and that’s where the real growth happens.

So in the end, typing “The End” was about more than the conclusion of my story. It wasn’t even about discipline, patience, or perseverance. I’ve learned much more about those things from the journey since.

Typing ‘the end’ was one of the most profoundly moving moments of my life. And I sometimes think it won’t be surpassed by getting an agent or a publishing deal. It was about knowing I’d found myself. It was about trusting my heart, and a willingness to reveal myself to seek human connection through story. I’ve found joy and healing, friendship and love through writing fiction. And that’s no small thing.

The Road Goes Ever On: Then, after my cathartic moment, I couldn’t resist. At the bottom of my manuscript’s word doc, I typed: (Stay tuned.). I knew my story would go on. And it will.

Now, tell me about “The End” of your story. 

37 comments on “The Day I Typed “The End”

  1. Jo Eberhardt says:

    I’d like to tell you my story, but my eyes are all teary. Hang on… I’m okay… Must be the dust…

    Thank you so much for taking me on your journey. I’m proud of you, too. And I didn’t even know you back then. (Is that weird? I hope it’s not weird.)

    Okay… I can do this.

    The first big moment I had was when I first did NaNoWriMo in 2005. The furthest I’d ever got into any of the myriad novels I’d started and given up on at that point was about 3000 words. But when I heard about NaNo on the 8th of November, I figured I’d give it a go. Because I’m insane.

    And so I wrote every day. I worked twelve hour days, six days a week, and when I got home, I wrote. On about the 20th of the month, I got up early to do some writing before work, and got carried away. Suddenly, I realised I was late. I started closing programs hurriedly, and a terrible thing happened. My computer crashed. When I loaded it back up, I’d lost over 6000 words.

    And then, on the way to work, I had a car accident. Just a little one, but enough to leave me shaken. So I did what anyone would do. I called in sick, drove home, and started writing. And that day, I wrote close to 12K words.

    It was 1:30am on the 29th of November when I crossed the 50K word mark on my (don’t laugh) sprawling epic fantasy novel. I cried. I wasn’t even at the end of my story, but I cried because I’d written 50K in 20 days, and I hadn’t ever really believed that I could do it, and I had no one to share it with in that moment. Everyone I knew was asleep. So I sat in my office and stared at the screen and the tears rolled down my cheeks. And then I got up and danced to music that only I could hear. And then I sat back down and stared at the screen and cried a bit more and felt more alive than I’d ever imagined I could feel.

    Epilogue: I wrote another 20K on that epic fantasy novel before realising it was so fatally flawed that I couldn’t fix it without starting from scratch. At that point, I’d managed to mass three armies, develop and tear down three magical colleges, and totally disrupt the royal family — all within seven story-days. (There was also a “chosen one”, a “hidden prince”, a prophecy, a mysterious identical twin, a ring of power, an evil vizier, and about 1001 other bad fantasy tropes. But let’s not go there.)

    Strangely, although writing ‘The End’ on my first full-length, completed first draft was emotional and exciting, it didn’t come close to the intensity of that night in 2005, when I proved to myself that I could do it. I was a writer.

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    • Oh, Jo, now you’ve got ole’ Major Weeper misty again. How wonderful! I love your description of “That Moment.” I think your car accident lines up with my shoulder injury (in a compressed time format). Even as I sat in the only position I could in my recliner, grimacing in pain, I was thinking, “This means I’m supposed to finish the trilogy.” And I did.

      Wow–12K! That surpasses my best by quite a bit. But in those days, working on book three, I routinely racked up word-counts I have only rarely approached since. I was doing 4-6K a day, five or six days a week. It was just “the rush and the push” (to quote another Smiths song).

      There is something magical about that first time finishing. Thank you for sharing!

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  2. Julie Luek says:

    What an amazing journey this becoming a writer is. Other people are true writers; we seldom credit ourselves with the same persona. Maybe there is something to typing “the end” that validates what we have become, what we dare to be, what we are. Congratulations on those two words– they carry a lot of meaning.

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    • It’s funny, but I wouldn’t even allow myself to type those special words on the first two installments of the trilogy. In my eyes, I hadn’t earned the privilege yet. So I agree, it was self-validating, and it showed me that what I’d dared to attempt was really happening.

      Thanks for reading and commenting, and for the congrats, Julie. There have been a few milestones since, but this one’s still something I am willing to pat myself on the back for once in a while. 🙂

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  3. ddfalvo says:

    Haha! I had that reputation as a teenager/young adult, too. The problem was . . . (looks away from computer–‘oh, shiny, shiny!’) Umm . . . what was I saying? Oh, yeah–nothing stuck long enough to hold my interest, until writing. Think that’s how I knew, without a doubt, this was where I truly belonged.

    Like you, I didn’t tell anyone for the longest time, for the same reasons. 😛 My life flipped a 180; I’d write late into the night, and dream about my characters during the day.

    Loved this: “At the bottom of my manuscript’s word doc, I typed: (Stay tuned.).”

    I think when you do what you are meant to do, everything falls into place. And if you aren’t doing what you’re meant to do, the universe gives you a nudge towards getting there (wounded shoulder). Your sprawling story has become an amazing achievement, and I can’t wait for you to share it with the world as well!

    The first time I wrote “the end”, I knew it was more of a draft ending–but it still felt good, and I’m close, far closer now than I have ever been. I needed this time to sort out the big picture so that the small ones will have endings that leave the reader wanting more (I hope!).

    Loved this post, Vaughn. As always it strikes a resonating chord. 🙂

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    • I wouldn’t have guessed that you were ever unfocused, D. But I know what you mean about gaining clarity of purpose with writing. It is a feeling of belonging.

      Hey, finishing a first draft is a major thing. I knew mine needed a ton of work afterward as well, but that doesn’t take a thing away from the achievement. I know you’re close, too. Keep striving. No pressure, but the reading world is waiting. 😉

      I’m so glad the post resonated, D. Thank you!

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  4. Nicole L. Bates says:

    A truly epic experience from an undeniably epic writer! No one will ever be able to accuse you of not seeing this through to the end! I’m so glad you’ve found your place in writing, it’s definitely where you belong.

    I also love the line you added to your MS, “Stay tuned.” That’s really how I’ve felt for a long time now. My story might be done, something might be about to happen, maybe we’re getting close…stay tuned! 😉

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    • Aw shucks, Nicole. Thank you so much for your kind words. And I can throw them right back at you. You have clearly found your calling!

      It’s funny, but almost every beta-reader who’s finished book three has commented on my little parenthetical remark–mostly along the lines of: “Does this mean there’s more coming?” The fact that a few readers seem to want more, after three doorstop manuscripts, is the ultimate compliment. Maybe we are getting close. I’m riveted, right beside you, staying tuned! 🙂

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  5. Natalie Hart says:

    Count me as another who had a reputation for not following through — good intentions, but no discipline. I typically gave up right when I had to take it seriously in order to continue. In college, I remember calling my mother, all flushed and excited, because I’d finished a sewing project, including the hems (finishing was always her job).

    I’d thought about writing for years. Years! I’d go for long walks everywhere I lived, making up scenes and conversations. I even wrote a book while I was temping one year in my 20s. But I never made it a discipline until my mid 30s. Since then, I’ve finished 3 manuscripts, and have one completed draft (and 3 partial drafts, 2 of which will not be finished). I tend to think of myself as “still not a serious writer,” but I should take a moment to look at that accomplishment and be proud. There’s more work to be done (lots more), but my self-image as The Not Finisher, The Lacker of Discipline, can go away now. I love the little “stay tuned…”

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    • You’re darn straight, Natalie. You’ve earned a new rep! You are VERY accomplished as a writer! If my post played even a small part in your recognition of that, *I’m* proud. 🙂 Love the sewing report to your mom.

      It’s funny, when I finished the trilogy I was excited to tell my mom. I told her that I’d FINALLY written my epic fantasy, and she asked, “What do you mean ‘finally’?” She didn’t even recall that I’d always said I would be a writer as a kid. The nerve!

      Thanks for sharing your accomplishments! Very inspiring, Natalie!

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  6. I haven’t yet written the actual words “The End” on my “sprawling epic trilogy”. I think because those two words are the most powerful in the entire work, and since it is a trilogy, they are repeated three times, which is a very magical number for various reasons. Typing “The End” is an act that sets my Will in motion, and I want to be as certain as I can reasonably be that I am setting loose on the world what I intend.

    My experience of youth is not all that far off from yours, either, and your post (perhaps) made me a bit blurry-eyed (for some unknown reason, and that may or may not have resulted in the use of a kleenex). My first memories of writing are from about age five or six (I was one of those odd kids who could read by age two), lying on my stomach on the front porch and scribbling out my “stories” on scrap paper with a nubby pencil. Nothing I have ever done (including the Theatre, which was wondrous and magical in so many ways) makes me as happy as writing does. And I had a *lot* of instances of the Universe clubbing me with the Cosmic Clue-by-four until I committed to writing in a serious, binding way.

    I wish I had some “big moment” story. I’ve just always known in the deepest part of me that a writer is what I am. Perhaps my “big moment” is yet to come in a way I can’t imagine yet.

    Thanks again for a terrific post 🙂

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    • Although I chose a different path, I totally understand and respect your withholding of putting the words on the page. I was just over at WU, reading Barbara’s post on the heady days of self-pub we live in. It’s such a lure for writers. I love that you want to be sure. Me too!

      You made me lol on “Cosmic Clue-by-four.” And I love the image of you on the porch writing as a little girl. I am very sure you will have many “big moments” to come, Lisa. I”m looking forward to the day you type the words. And I’m honored that the post may-or-may-not have moved you! Thanks for sharing!

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  7. Beautiful. Your writing journey gave me a watery smile, especially the part about the walk you and Mo took, and the text after. You are a person of intense feeling, and you have the ability to channel that feeling into your work, and make other people share it. That’s writing talent. I know. I’ve read your work. And each time you type the end, the triumph and the awe inspiring wonder of it all is the underlying truth. The end is only the beginning. Blessed be your journey my writerly friend.

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    • When Mo read this post last evening, she got misty (I hope she won’t mind my sharing) and said she perfectly recalled the walk and the texts, now four years and a month or so later. I take your words as very high praise. I’m always so honored to have tapped into the emotions of another human being. It feels like fleetingly touching something mystical, almost godly.

      As one of the few who’s read the aforementioned epilogue, you might be interested to know that it arrived in a heady rush, and has needed little revision since. Not that it never will, but I am still sort of awed by it. It was one of my ‘spooky’ writing moments. And it can still choke me up when I revisit it. Thanks for reading and being such a big part of my journey, and for your kind words here, B! I heartily return your well-wishes.

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  8. I loved hearing how your novel came to being, including the emotion and the weeping 🙂

    My “The End” story isn’t as beautiful as yours. I finished, typed the end just because I could, told my husband and kids, and then tweeted it. The main thing I felt was incredulity that I’d actually done it, tempered by the knowledge that I wasn’t technically done because I still had to edit it all. But, I felt like a writer.

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    • Notice how I softened my admission by comparing myself to Jude Law. 😉 Only someone like him could make being a “major weeper” an okay thing for a guy.

      Come,now. All “The End” stories have a beauty all their own. Yours sounds lovely. I know about the incredulity factor, and the tempering knowledge. Feeling like a real writer is perhaps the most wonderful thing about finishing. Thanks, Lara! I’m glad you enjoyed Mr. Sentimental’s story!

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  9. What a wonderful story, Vaughn! And I absolutely agree that typing the end was one of the most profound experiences of my life… much weepng here, no question! In fact, it never gets old. Each time I type the end, each manuscript, I feel that same release. Even as I edit the endings… I cry each time I read the last chapter. It is a very intense experience. CONGRATULATIONS, friend, and welcome to the weeping club 🙂

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    • Me too. The next time I did it, and with each subsequent rewrite, Major Weeper has that cathartic release. It’s already been such a meaningful journey for me, come what may. Many thanks and congrats to you, too, Julia, my fellow weeping club member! 🙂

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  10. sugaropal says:

    Whew, I finally made it! That was a lovely and touching post, which is what I’ve come to expect from you now. Thank you for sharing so much of your self with us. I’m not sure I actually remember typing “The End” for my first book. I do remember feeling a sense of accomplishment and pride, and a hefty dose of relief too, since I’d tried writing a book some ten years earlier and never finished it. In some ways I see the end of the first draft as just the beginning, knowing how many more times I will read/edit/revise everything.

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    • Maybe the fact that I didn’t know what I was in for next was part of what was so special about it the first time. When I finished this last manuscript, I felt relief and a sense of accomplishment (and, as I admit to Julia above, I did weep again), but it was tempered with the knowledge that it was a beginning. And by then I knew what that entailed.

      Thank for the praise, Rhiann! It means so much from someone who specializes in “lovely and touching.” 🙂

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  11. Reading this made me all kinds of tingly…for it reminded me of my own story and, as shown above, the stories of others. You know well how to touch a nerve, Vaughn.

    The story of my story began late in 1999. Before that it existed only in my head. That year, the year I finally gave myself permission to write, I unleashed a pent-up desire. When my efforts paused in 2005 I’d created a world and a sprawling 950K (no joke) adventure containing more story arcs than I could count. With my personal life coming apart around me and a gigantic monster what I had to show for six years of effort, I shelved the work until 2011. Long before, I’d given myself permission to write, but that year I gave myself permission to be a writer. It was then that I realized what I had was a blueprint for a series. It was possible, I decided, to extract individual arcs. Each character would headline a different book.

    Late in 2012 the first book had its “The End” moment and I cried realizing how far the story had come and how far I’d come, for I’d reassembled my life and given new life to a written disaster, making it not a disaster after all. Now the first book nears the end of its editing stage, the second book is begun, and the third is in the preliminary stages. The rest are either resting comfortably in that original epic or waiting in my head.

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    • Oh, good, re: “all kinds of tingly.” 🙂 I’m honored.

      I have a file called “Lost Tales,” and it’s about 200K of cut material from the trilogy. I have all of my major characters’ life-stories back to when they were small children, even though we don’t meet them until their late-teens or young adulthood. I know that drawing on that knowledge has made the world of my stories a richer one. I know it helped me to know and understand the goals and motivations of each of them. Sounds like you gained that as well. I love how you distinguish between giving yourself permission to write and permission to call yourself a writer. I went through that, somewhere along the line. It’s an internal thing, but it’s a huge transformation for every artist.

      Sounds like your journey is a rich one, Christina. I know that such a meaningful journey will yield excellent results. Congrats on your self-awareness and successes thus far. I wish you all the best as we strive onward together!

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  12. Right ON! I love this post . . . isn’t it crazy how the act of writing really does change us? I’ve been thinking about this a lot, how writing fiction has changed me. I’m still grappling with the “why and the how” of that idea, but this post is just evidence that yes, we are changed as we write. In very cool ways, I might add.

    Thanks, Vaughn, for sharing. Such a happy story.

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    • Oh yes, I’m changed… and crazy. No wait, you said “the change” is crazy. 😉 I think it’s worth spending some time contemplating the “why and how” of the change. And I’m pretty sure it’s not over. I continue to evolve… Hopefully mostly in cool ways. Sometimes I fear I’ve become too self-indulgent, so focused on my work and journey. But I think I’ve gained a better grasp on what it means to be a human being–a better worldview, if you will.

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Sarah. Thank you!

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  13. Hallie Sawyer says:

    Getting to “The End” is a major feat. All the long hours, the plotting, the pounding of keys, and the determination to see it through. I applaud you for your perseverance and the finding your center. I hit “The End” on my first draft a couple of years ago and now laugh at the iconicity of that statement!

    Thank you so much for sharing this.

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    • It’s funny, isn’t it, Hallie? But in a way, I’m glad I didn’t know what came next. It’s definitely a case of ignorance being (short-term) bliss. 😉

      Thanks for weighing in, my friend!

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  14. Tonia Marie Houston says:

    Oh Vaughn, I can’t wait to read your stories. You have a way of reaching out and making the reader see the world through your eyes. Thank you for sharing.
    Endings are something I’ve come to honor- in life and in writing.
    When I wrote “the end” of this last rewrite of my story, one of my daughters happened to be looking over my shoulder. She asked didn’t I need to send it to my beta-readers and wouldn’t there be more rewrites? (Yeah, no one in my house lives under the delusion that writing and publishing is an overnight job.)
    I explained that, oh yes, there would be edits and more rewrites in the story’s future, but the thing was, I was ready to send it to readers. There’s a little piece of my soul in, and who knew how much raw guts it took to be a writer? We put those little secrets out there, stepping back, and then wait in a place where we acknowledge it’s no longer just ours. That’s the place when you know you’re ready to move forward, take the feedback, and turn it into a work that’s no less your soul, but more a of a mirror. Something readers can look into and perhaps see a hidden piece of their soul. It may sound like dramatics, but I find this exciting. It’s kind of what keeps me putting words on paper. 🙂

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    • I’m so humbled that so many have been moved by this post. It’s a special feeling, to have moved others with words. You’re right–it’s one of the most exciting parts about the thought of having my work go out to the world, and it keeps me putting words on paper, too.

      I love that your daughter was so aware of the process! And I totally respect your definition of the appropriate time to put the words on the page. Everyone has to be totally at ease in their heart with when to say it. (We’re a superstitious bunch, we writers, aren’t we? But they are important words, so I get it.) I also love this: “That’s the place when you know you’re ready to move forward, take the feedback, and turn it into a work that’s no less your soul, but more a of a mirror.” So true!

      I am so excited to read your work, Tonia! I very much want to be a part of your ending for this part of your journey! I have a very strong feeling it’ll be a happy one. 🙂 Thanks for your kind and wise words, my friend!

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  15. Hi Vaughn,

    I found your post from an indirect line of blogs this morning, and I’m very glad I did. Your experiences seem to echo much of mine as I’ve battled with the desire to write; I have had my idea burning in me, on and off, for nearly 20 years, but a challenging career, a wife and three children have kept it at bay. I often wondered if I’d ever get around to it, or if I’d simply grow old and die with all this inside me.

    I’ve never been much of a ‘finisher’ of personal projects. My interests shift with the wind, and constant demands on the time have shortened my attention span considerably. Finding two or three hours in a row to be able to work, uninterrupted, on something that I wasn’t being paid for was a pipe dream. Fortunately, though, my kids grew up enough so that they didn’t demand so much of my time, I got a job that didn’t require 60+ hours a week, and I decided last March that it was finally time. The words flowed out, about 20K in a month, and then I discovered that the story I’d planned just wasn’t mine to tell. It was kind of depressing. I stepped back, worked to pull the original elements out and construct a new story around new characters, and everything tell back into place. The new story is far better than the old story ever could have been.

    I’m so close right now. At 85K words, I’m over the most difficult hump and can see the rest of the novel clearly (probably 120K). The image of having all my ideas finally on paper and typing “the end” is clear in my mind, and inevitable barring death or injury. I understand there is a lot of work to do afterwards; multiple rewrites, marketing, publishing decisions – but getting the first draft done is going to be a major milestone for me.

    Thanks for the article, it was an encouragement to me today. I’ll even try to check out your books when I have the time to read again. 🙂

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    • Hi Chris,

      Wow, your story sounds very familiar, indeed. I’m so glad you got to the point where you could let the words flow onto the page. And false starts and reboots are very commonplace, so I’m glad you forged on in spite of the setback. Sounds like you’re on the perfect track. Keep it up!

      I’m so glad the post was encouraging. Thanks so much for sharing your inspiring story here! My books are available yet, but I really appreciate the sentiment. We can look forward to the day when we can read each other’s work, right? 🙂

      Like

  16. katmagendie says:

    so so so loved this post — and can’t wait to read your books, Vaughn. You are awesome.

    Like

  17. […] and that was—in part—why I did not stop writing after book one was complete. As I describe in last week’s post, I was self-deluding about the work’s potential, unwilling to allow myself to think too far ahead […]

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  18. arogers907 says:

    I always enjoy reading your posts. However, I think that even more than enjoyment, I get motivation out of them. I very much appreciate that.

    I’m also obligated to say that that Gaiman quote was exactly what I needed to see tonight. =)

    Be well and best of luck with all the words.

    Like

    • Such high praise! Just so happens that your comment, and a revisit to this post, were exactly what I needed today. So gratitude back at you, Andy!

      Same to you, wishing you and yours good health, and good words to my fellow Sandy crew member. 🙂

      Like

  19. juliesondra says:

    Older post, but I just wanted to comment as I’m just getting into reading your blog. 🙂

    Thanks for writing this. I loved what you said about being a newbie pantser (hey, I’m a pantser too, surprise!), and the concept of the overlong fantasy novel is one I’m wayyyy too acquainted with. (My first actual fantasy novel was 255k. I later rewrote it as . . . you guessed it . . . a trilogy. And the first volume’s first draft was 171k. Edited down to 146k before submissions. And got an interested agent who said she would be excited to read it if I could cut it down to 115k. I DID IT. Still sort of unbelievable to me.)

    Also really liked the bit about self-delusion. I just recently wrote a blog post about how if you can convince yourself that every part is the easy part, you’ll probably feel less intimidated by every step of the journey.

    I even took a photo of one of my “the end” moments. (Can I HTML here? I guess we’ll find out.)

    Finishing is so cathartic and energizing. I remember finishing the first book of my adult life and carrying the manuscript around to a restaurant and a bookstore the next day trying to sit in public places and quietly read it while feeling like I was this weird magical thing sitting in an ordinary place because CRAP NONE OF THESE PEOPLE WALKING AROUND KNOW WHAT I HAVE DONE AND THAT THEY ARE IN THE PRESENCE OF A WRITER IN AFTERGLOW, phoaaaar! Now when I finish a book I guess I just cry a little and eat cake. 🙂

    Like

    • Hi again, Julie! You’ve made my day–so glad you’re enjoying the blog! 🙂

      Wow, from 171K to 115 is very admirable. And yes, apparently you can HTML here. Very fun shot! You look like I felt, for sure. Very funny story about no one around you knowing. I know that feeling well, too. Back when I actually finished, very few of my friends (and even some of my family) had no idea. Thank God I have my wife, who totally gets it. Even still, I cried. And I think we may have had cheesecake that night, too, so good idea there. We went to our favorite gourmet-type market and loaded up on good stuff for dinner. We’ve sort of made it a traditions since.

      Sounds like you’re a bit ahead of me on your journey, but I wish you all the best as you move forward. Thanks so much for reading and commenting! Have a great weekend! 🙂

      Like

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